Kimberly Milhoan, MD

I wrote this in response to an article by Leah Hickman, in which she describes doctors facing penalties for trying to help women save their babies from chemical abortion, a practice I laud and with which I have familiarity. We have a thriving baby in our church community whose mom took an abortion pill regimen, regretted it, and confessed to her parents what she had done. Her mom called the crisis pregnancy center where my husband is medical director and he got her a prescription, in between preaching two services on a Sunday morning. He followed her along by ultrasound until her second trimester, as no local OBs will see a patient who has taken abortion reversal during their first trimester.

I saw some parallels in Hickmans’s article to another current events situation, so took the liberty to rewrite the article:

Doctors all over the world face penalties for trying to save lives from COVID-19

People all over the world who are fearful of dying of COVID-19 struggle to access early treatment. Doctors have faced suspension, firing, investigation and loss of their medical licenses, as well as censorship on social media and by other media sources for prescribing a variety of medicines for outpatient treatment of COVID-19, based on allegations of endangering patients. Although most patients survive COVID-19 without hospitalization, the mortality for those who are eventually hospitalized is still quite high. An observational study demonstrated at least a 75% decrease in hospitalizations and death with a sequential multi-drug treatment regimen formulated to treat the viral replication, inflammation, and thrombosis associated with COVID-19.

Dr. Harvey Risch, a Yale epidemiologist who advocates for early treatment, said, “doctors across the country have been quietly treating outpatients with hydroxychloroquine plus other agents. One telemedicine group has treated 70,000 COVID-19 patients. Two others, 20,000 each. Drs. Fareed and Tyson in California, 4,000. Dr. Procter in Texas and Dr. Zelenko, who started this outpatient treatment, each 3,000 patients. With in total a handful of deaths. In total. And no deaths from the medications themselves. Of these 120,000 patients it is estimated that 40% have been high-risk, thus some 50,000 Americans had their lives saved by hydroxychloroquine outpatient treatment regimens. And these are just the ones that we know about.”

Frantic patients who have been unable to find a doctor to treat them are increasingly seeking telemedicine services. The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons maintains a 
website helping patients find these services. Doctors offering these services have increasingly banded together through e-mail discussion groups to share resources, studies, approaches and even services.

One doctor reports a recent week where she was helping an elderly couple in Washington, an elderly couple in Florida, and an entire family in Brazil. Though she was in the U.S., through this email network, she was able to find three doctors in Brazil with experience in early treatment with the specific variants in Brazil who were able to help this family. All patients treated that week have recovered and none required hospitalization. 

L.L., who lives in the U.S. but was visiting family in Brazil, was one of those patients. Her symptoms were quite mild, but since she is in her second trimester of pregnancy, she was concerned for adverse effects for her unborn baby,. She was treated with antibiotics, various over-the-counter supplements, inhaled budesonide, and hydroxychloroquine, which is safe in pregnancy. Her husband’s symptoms were much more severe. He received the same medications, except he received ivermectin instead of hydroxychloroquine. Her mother was treated similarly to her husband. None of them were able to obtain the aspirin that was recommended to them over-the-counter in Brazil, as outpatient treatment for COVID-19 is stigmatized there as it is in many parts of the world.

Dr. V.K., a Brazilian family medicine doctor, offered this perspective, “Here we are having a kind of which hunt against medical doctors that are treating COVID-19, the ones that go to social media talk about treatment are even being threatened with jail. What I think is very surprising is to see a [Brazilian] scientific journal emitting an opinion about politics! We are in a democratic regime, so it is up to Brazilians to choose their president. What we should worry about is science and here they are using the name of science to not treat COVID-19 and to try to make a political campaign since our presidential elections are next year. It is more than one year that I try to motivate doctors to treat but unfortunately our scientific community is linked to federal universities and they are in a war since this president had the plan to privatize federal universities. What we need to be clear is that we should not involve politics with COVID-19 treatment and unfortunately that is what is happening.”

As she sought treatment, L.L. felt this tension. She emailed, “I am having a hard time buying meds here as you prescribed. So I’m trying to do what I can with what I am able to get. My sister has been helping me get stuff, since she is in early med school. We’ve been suffering a lot of prejudice. I’m not sure how to explain better. I haven’t talked to any other doctors here, nor shared the treatment you prescribed with anyone. But my sister’s friends and people at the pharmacy look at her really weird when she tries to get our pills. I’m not saying this because I don’t trust what you’re doing. I’m just sharing this information because I feel like I haven’t been able to follow your instructions exactly the way you gave them. I’m sorry. Also, sharing as a way to open my heart up that I feel like an alien here with all the COVID-19 madness, vaccine obsessions, and anti-treatment as you prescribed. People here think we are crazy.”

However, ten days after their diagnosis and the start of early treatment, L.L. was able to report: “So, we end our quarantine on Monday. We are all done taking medication. We are all without symptoms. Except J still has a bit of a cough now and then. But I’m feeling okay about that because I know that this cough can last a long time. Son is 100%. I am 100% and feel baby moving normally and growing just fine. My Mom is 100%. Thank you for all your prayers and support. I seriously don’t know what would have been of this trip without your help. I have a renewed sense of appreciation for you. God gave me you here.

And with such illicit help, we have another thriving baby in our church community.